MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO-TV brought you a story in May about a Minneapolis based car business benefiting from high gas prices. The company, Civics Reborn, puts new parts in used Honda Civics.
At the time, the company said that business quadrupled with customers searching for fuel efficient and sustainable cars. But in the weeks after the story aired, WCCO received a growing number of customers with complaints, saying the business needs a tune up.
Owner Zachary Moore, 21, started the company three years ago, before gas prices tipped around $4 a gallon.
Moore sells just one generation of Honda Civics — from 1992 to 1995 — then strips them down, and rebuilds with mostly new parts. They’re cars known for their fuel efficiency.
However, nearly one dozen customers told WCCO they have not received their vehicles in the time that Moore promised or their cars aren’t working properly.
One of those customers is Cassandra Doran, of Brooklyn Center.
“If looks too good to be true. It’s too good to be true,” said Doran. “We did our research and there was nothing bad out there so don’t take that as a sign it’s a good company. Just because there is not something on BBB and they have an A-plus rating, does not mean, they have an A-plus rating.”
Doran and her boyfriend Brian Lasley needed an affordable car for their family and found Civics Reborn.
“The car to take me to work, to take our kids to school, to take our kids to dance practice our daily activities, so it needed to be reliable,” said Doran.
The couple says they paid $4,600 up front, since owner Zachary Moore told them his company program requires initial payment to buy the new parts.
“He said, you sign the title over, it’s mailed within a few weeks and that is it — 15 days,” said Lasley.
But the couple says the two weeks turned into two months, and repeated calls to Moore went unanswered.
“When I call a business that has my car and money, I expect them to tell me when it was going to be ready,” said Doran.
More customers with similar stories sent in complaints to the WCCO website, and WCCO confronted Moore about the growing number of unhappy customers.
“If I was on their end, I would be upset,” said Moore, who says he has moved to a new facility on 3134 California Street in Northeast Minneapolis, in order to improve his business efficiency. “We are in over our head and we are trying to keep up with it. The best thing we can do is tell our customers they won’t get their order for a while. Basically, we started off with a small amount of orders per month and when our popularity started growing, we weren’t prepared for how many were coming in. We are doing our best to keep up with everything.”
Moore said he has over-promised and under delivered as his business as grown, adding he has regrets.
“If I would have known, I would have told customers you are going to wait 2-3 months for your vehicle,” said Moore, who says his customers’ money is still going directly to the car they purchased. “Why would I be trying this hard at a scam? It would be a lot of work for nothing.”
Doran said while she was waiting for her Civic, Moore gave her two loaner cars that broke down, and that’s when she threatened legal action.
“He needed to deliver by June 26 or we needed a full refund,” said Doran, who said that deadline came and went without her car.
“At that point he called and said he didn’t need my business and he would gladly give us a refund,” said Moore, who called it a sigh of relief.
Doran said she did receive her money back, and used it to buy another used car, but she’s now communicated with other unhappy customers who haven’t had the same outcome.
Many customers tell WCCO they are still waiting for their cars, in some cases up to three months.
Moore said he is trying to improve his business model.
“I doing my best, and I am with them 100 percent — they are going to like their car,” he said.